Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Cactus in the Middle of Paris?

I've been asked by several people what I miss most from the USA when living in Paris.  Convenience is number one, but food items that I can only find in the USA are a very close second. I love spicy foods and find myself missing them the most.  A trip to a Thai or Asian restaurant, and a bottle of Sriracha on my shelf occasionally fill the cravings for something spicy.  But what I really miss is a great burrito, Taqueria style.  Boston has several little chains, and over the past year I lived within a very short walk of my favorite: Anna's.   My last week in Boston, I had a farewell lunch at the Anna's in Davis Square with my friend Amanda.  It was more of Adieu then an Au revoir, knowing my chances of visiting Anna's would be slim on visits back to the US.  Chipotle will most likely be the substitute on visits to Ohio. 

Arriving in Paris, I had already started to plot on how I was going to deal with my lack of pick-your-own-fillings, quick burritos.  Maybe I could create my own recipe for Carnitas at home and have visitors bring me jars of spicy salsas to top them with.  I could easily grow cilantro in my windowbox, and thankfully there is no lack of Avocados in the French supermarkets.  And then something amazing happened! 

I was on my way to the Richelieu Drouot Metro stop, not 5 mins from my apartment, and like a miraculous apparition I saw this:
 And this:
 How do you say Burrito in French?

It was suspiciously remeniscent of a Chipotle menu.....but in FRENCH!
I snapped a few photos and hurried on to my destination making mental notes to come back and try this soon!

As I met with my friends that evening, the subject of food came up naturally, and then the subject of good burritos.  I was so excited to show them my find.  My friends being American expats who have lived here a bit longer seemed intrigued, but warned me not to set my expectations high, but of course to let them know if I tried it.

This is why I shouldn't get too excited.  I feel like Ethnic cuisine in France is sorta dumbed down for French taste.  This past summer I went to a Korean restaurant one evening (looking for my spicy food fix, it never disappointed me in Boston).  The food at the Korean restaurant was not bad, quite delicious and the service was excellent. However I felt the dishes I had were nowhere near the spice level they would have in the US? Or do I have to backwards?  Are you all spice addicts and the food is amped up in the US for us?  I think not.

Back to the Cactus.  I convinced myself not to expect much.  Finally today I decided it was time to go and try it.  I stepped inside the doors and was instantly greeted by a young smiling lady behind the counter. I decided to go with the burrito.  She started to explain to me how this place was like places in the US, where you choose your fillings.  I surveyed my options: Beef, Chicken, Pork or Veggies. Only one type of beans, looked like Kidney beans in a chili-esque sauce.  The veggies had visibly more red peppers then green; I prefer red over green, so that was good.  They had a "sour cream" 2 types of Hot sauce, cheese (most likely emmental), corn, fresh chopped tomatoes, iceberg lettuce and guacamole.  I went with Pork (little chunks, not shredded carnitas like I'm used to), the beans, the mild sauce, cheese, tomatoes and guacamole.  It definitely looked like an American burrito by the size alone. I was trying to remain calm.....and hoping it was at least edible.

 That's on a dinner plate.....

I wanted to run home, but paced myself.  I did run up the stairs a bit because there was a scary looking man in the courtyard when I arrived and I didn't want him to harm me or my lunch.  I then very ceremoniously placed it on a plate and sliced it in half with a Lagouile knife, of course!

Got to admit that looks pretty damn tasty!

I'm going to cut to the chase.  It was pretty good!  The meat was not excellent, the rice was a little dry and heavy, but the beans had a nice chili flavor to them, the guacamole was well made and the 'mild' sauce left a nice little after burn in my mouth.  It completely satisfied my burrito craving!  I, alone, may keep this place in business!

If you're in the mood for some Mexican try Cactus at 48 rue Laffitte near Metro Notre Dame de Lorette or Metro Peletier.

Next post is on pastry......I swear :-)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Paris is a Little Bit Different This Time

 Cold Day in Paris

It the first time I've been in Paris at this time of year, and it's cold!  People are bundled up in their winter coats, scarves and hats. The sky is often cloudy and gray, and we have even had a few snow showers.   There are Christmas lights and decorations all over the city.  The Avenue de Champs-Elysees has been transformed into Santa's village including little huts for artisans to sell their goods.  You can also buy a cup of Vin Chaud to warm you up as you stroll.
Lights on the Champs-Elysees
I think the biggest difference is personal this time.  I look at Paris a little differently now that I know I am staying here, no more leaving in 3 months.  I now have a husband and my name may be changing soon as well.  People have already been calling me "Madame Lepoutre".

A Very Important Day with Much Celebration to Follow
I feel it is time to make some changes to my blog.  I'm looking for a new focus and possibly a new name.  It won't change completely, just looking to make some improvements.  I'm open to suggestions; what would you like to see/read more of?  I definitely plan to keep it food centered of course, and mostly pastry. 

Wishing you warm holidays ahead!